This week’s poem is from Alun Lewis: Collected Poems, edited by Cary Archard, to celebrate Lewis’s centenary earlier this week. Lewis was one of the most compelling writers of the Second World War, whose premature death in 1944 – when he was only 28 – was a grave loss to Britain’s literature community.
For more information about Lewis, check out his website and find out everything you need to know about the continuing centenary celebrations on Twitter.
In Hospital: Poona
Last night I did not fight for sleep
But lay awake from midnight while the world
Turned its slow features to the moving deep
Of darkness, till I knew that you were furled,
Beloved, in the same dark watch as I.
And sixty degrees of longitude beside
Vanished as though a swan in ecstasy
Had spanned the distance from your sleeping side.
And like to swan or moon the whole of Wales
Glided within the parish of my care:
I saw the green tide leap on Cardigan,
Your red yacht riding like a legend there,
And the great mountains, Dafydd and Llewelyn,
Plynlimmon, Cader Idris and Eryri
Threshing the darkness back from head and fin,
And also the small nameless mining valley
Whose slopes are scratched with streets and
Dark in the lap of firwoods and great boulders
Where you lay waiting, listening to the waves-
My hot hands touched your white despondent shoulders
– And then ten thousand miles of daylight grew
Between us, and I heard the wild daws crake
In India’s starving throat; whereat I knew
That Time upon the heart can break
But love survives the venom of the snake.
Order Alun Lewis: Collected Poems from our website.
100 years ago today, the 1st July 1915, Alun Lewis was born. No one could have known then that he would grow into one of the most remarkable writers of the Second World War, nor that he would die under tragic circumstances at just 28 years old.
Though short, Lewis’s life was tumultuous; he was a talented academic, a gifted writer, a depressive personality, and a pacifist by nature who was faced with a war against fascism. And yet despite all that there aren’t many outside of Wales who’ve even heard his name.
At Seren, that’s something we’ve been trying to change this year.
So if you’d like to celebrate the centenary of this outstanding writer, come and join us in Aberdare today for a whole array of celebrations including the unveiling of a Royal Welsh Regiment blue plaque, re-dedications of the Lewis Bronze in Aberdare Library, an address by National Poet Gillian Clarke, and a reading of Lewis’s poetry by Brigadier Philip Napier as well as contributions from local schools.
Join us at 10:30am at Glynhafod Junior School from where the celebrations will begin, and help us to mark this occasion and remember one of the greatest writers Wales has ever produced.
Order Alun Lewis’s work from our website.